10/09/2007 11:00PM

Monashee continues to roll

EmailVANCOUVER, British Columbia - When Monashee leaves Hastings after she runs in, and presumably wins, the Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders' Cup on Saturday, she will have put together the best record ever compiled by a filly or mare based in British Columbia.

Monashee has knocked off 10 straight stakes wins, all in western Canada, dating back to June 10, 2006. In her last start, she carried 130 pounds and gave away as many as 18 pounds to the rest of the field in the Delta Colleen Handicap. Lady Raj, who finished second, was getting 16 pounds. Monashee won without being asked to extend herself by her regular jockey Dave Wilson. In fact, for the seventh straight race, Wilson never cocked his stick. The last time Wilson used his whip on Monashee was in the 2006 British Columbia Cup Distaff.

She has become so dominant in this region that it has become difficult to line up horses to race against her. In fact, the Vancouver Sun Stakes had to be canceled this meet when only two other horses were entered.

Despite her accomplishments, it's hard to say how good Monashee really is since she has been beating horses that would have a hard time winning high-priced claiming races at major tracks. Monashee could be tested soon, though, as her owner, Ole Nielsen, is planning on sending her to Southern California this winter. He may first send her to Woodbine for the $175,000 Maple Leaf Stakes on Nov. 10.

Monashee is managed by a committee that includes Nielsen, 63, who is a local breeder and a lawyer; trainer Tracy McCarthy, 50; and her husband Chris Loseth. Loseth, 53, retired as the all-time leading rider at Hastings in 2005. He rode Monashee for her first five races and is currently her exercise rider.

A 5-year-old gray mare by Wolf Power, Monashee started three times as a 2-year-old but really didn't distinguish herself, winning a maiden special weight race from three starts. She also behaved poorly in the starting gate.

It wasn't until after Monashee's first race as a 3-year-old that Nielsen started to get excited about her.

"Chris had her parked three wide every step of the way and she still won," said Nielsen, who races under the stable name Canmor Farms.

McCarthy said: "She really grew up a lot over that winter. She was a nice looking filly, well balanced, beautiful shoulder, but she just hadn't filled out at 2. She put on a tremendous amount of muscle mass."

In her second start at 3, Monashee hurt herself when she stumbled coming out of the gate in the Mt. Royal Handicap at Stampede Park. When she resurfaced in a $50,000 optional claiming race at Hastings in July, it was as if a metamorphous had taken place. Breaking sharply, Monashee forced a quick pace and then drew off to win for fun. She won 13 of her next 15 races and she'll go into the Ballerina with career totals of 16 wins from 21 starts with $631,330 in earnings. The Ballerina will be run under scale weights and Monashee will carry 123 pounds, the same as her other older rivals.

According to Nielsen, McCarthy deserves most of the credit for Monashee's success.

"She's not an easy horse to keep happy, and Tracy's the only one that seems to be able to do it," Nielsen said. "Tracy's patience with her has really paid off."

McCarthy works hard to keep Monashee calm and relaxed.

"She loves to train, so it's easy getting her ready to run," McCarthy said. "The key thing is to keep her on level ground. It doesn't take much to set her off. She notices everything that's going on around her. If she's in her stall and a bird flies by, she reacts to it. Part of her problems in the gate was because she would hear other horses being loaded and it would set her off."

To help combat Monashee's curiosity, McCarthy put ear cones on her so she couldn't hear what was going on around her. The added equipment has made a big difference.

Monashee has never lost to females going a distance of 1 1/16 miles or more, and, according to McCarthy, she had an excuse when she finished ninth in the 2005 Grade 3 B.C. Derby - her only loss in a race longer than 6 1/2 furlongs.

"She was done by the time she got to the paddock in the derby," McCarthy said. "We had a horse in the race before the derby, so I was at the track and Chris tried to put the bridle on her. She fought with him every step of the way, and by the time she made it to the paddock she was cooked. We've learned that you just can't pick a fight with her."

Monashee rebounded to easily beat older mares in the 2005 Ballerina and then went home for the year.

She came back at 4 to finish second sprinting in the Vancouver Sun in May 2006 - the last time she lost.

Monashee's 4-year-old season was short lived. After winning the City of Edmonton Distaff at Northlands Park in August she came down with pleural pneumonia and came close to dying.

"They drained six liters of fluid off of her lungs," McCarthy said. "We were just hoping that she would survive."

Monashee bounced back better than anyone could have imagined, and she was put back in training last winter.

"Actually, we brought her back early this year because we weren't sure if her lungs would hold up," Nielsen said. "If they didn't hold up, we still would have time to breed her."

Monashee has won all six of her starts this year, and she's also matured.

"As wild as she is off the track, you can do anything you want with her on the track," Loseth said. "She runs that way in a race too. You can put her anywhere you want to. I think that's part of the reason she has stayed so sound."

Monashee has overcome adversity to be voted the winner of numerous regional titles. She was honored as the horse of the year at Hastings in 2005 and as champion older mare here last year. In addition to being a cinch to win the older filly and mare title at Hastings, she is also likely to be voted champion older mare in Alberta this year after winning the Madamoiselle and City of Edmonton Distaff at Northlands Park, the latter under 128 pounds. It's also possible she could win a Sovereign Award as the best older filly or mare in Canada on dirt. A win in the Maple Leaf would go a long way in helping secure much needed Eastern votes.

"She's done everything so easily that I hope that when she's really asked to run she doesn't melt," said Nielsen, who paid $14,000 for Monashee as a yearling at the 2003 Keeneland September sale. "We've kept her here because this is were we live and we want to play the game here. It's been one great ride."